Sunday, November 30, 2008

Magically Delicious

Back in June I went on a diet and started exercising, and ever since then I've been running a few times a week (more often in the summer, somewhat less in the fall/winter but still pretty regularly). Tonight I went running in the rain after a nice dinner over at Eric and Lauren's (who this afternoon kindly invited us over for dinner). Usually when I'm running I think about death or something like that, but tonight I was thinking about Art, and about Lucky Charms.

Lucky Charms is the best cereal, and when I was young I didn't really understand why it is the best cereal, I just enjoyed it. But as I got older and tried different things, I began to understand why it is the best cereal. One of the things that I tried that helped me to understand why Lucky Charms succeeds in being the best cereal was attempting to eat all of the oats and leave myself a bowl full of marshmallows. I figured that getting all of the oat-eating out of the way would leave me, at the end of the bowl, with about 10 bites worth of pretty much pure sunshine happiness. But I learned it wasn't true. For me, anyway. Spoonfuls of marshmallows were not as good as a mix. A balance. Of oats and marshmallows.

And here's the really important thing that I've learned since then: it's the oats that make Lucky Charms a cereal that can be regularly and consistently enjoyed--I could eat it every day and still be OK with it. And it's because of the oats. Just marshmallows I would get sick of pretty quick.

I think the Lucky Charms folks get it right because they have more oats than marshmallows. The marshmallows are there pretty much just to spice things up a little bit, but it's really the oats that keep you coming back for a lifetime.

And the same is probably true of Art. For the analogy, I think of marshmallows as things that are florid, poetic, aesthetically beautiful -- the chorus, the hook, the really nice lighting; I think of oats as things that are mundane, boring, simple, quiet. The verses. The general wash.

Bob Dylan songs are, to me, the Lucky Charms of music; it's why they've stood the test of time. There's some great poetry in them, but there's a shit ton of incredibly mundane lines, too. The things are composed entirely of verses and no chorus, for the most part. And even breaking it down further, the lines are generally composed of oat words with a few marshmallows that are the ones that steer the line downward into your gut. And the music behind it all is usually pretty generic, repetitive, unassuming. Oat music.

So, the point of this all, I guess, is just a reminder to myself, to return to: if I start working on more music, I'm gonna focus on the oats.


DOB said...

To Sean:
The thing that got me started thinking about the whole Lucky Charms as music/art analogy is the line "I don't need a pack of gum," in your song "Just Your Touch," a line which you have said you don't like, and which I didn't like at first, either, but tonight while running I realized that that line is the reason I can keep going back to listen to that song and not get sick of it. It's a really big dose of oats in a song that has a lot of really good poetic marshmallow.

And what's this I read about you going to Mexico?

Anonymous said...

I think this is exactly the reason why Daryl Hall sucks as a solo artist...but then when you add in the Oates element, it makes for one potent collaboration. Delicious and nutritious since the early 1970’s.


Melissa Miller said...

I still like to leave just the marshmallows. I just eat the oats cuz I have to.

DOB said...

Thank you for shooting to hell an evening's worth of pretentious abstract thought, Melissa Miller.

How's Buffalo?

RR- I think you need to re-read the original post. Oats. No "E". Oats.

Melissa said...


Buffalo is good but very cold. Brr.

Hows the B and N? I heard you were very excited about a firing...

DOB said...

I don't think "excited" is exactly the right word. Surprised. A little sad (mostly for Dan P, who had to do the firing). Amazed that it took this long.

Melissa said...

It is impressive it took this long.

PKP said...

I'm sorry, but I hate the marshmallows in Lucky Charms. I hate the way they crunch. Won't eat Lucky Charms.

DOB said...

Well, it doesn't HAVE to be Lucky Charms, PKP. Sheesh. You could look at it this way:

The Karate Kid is the greatest movie of all time because scenes of actual ass-kicking karate are only sprinkled among far more numerous scenes of non-karate.

Ass-kicking karate = marshmallows (which, you're right, do crunch strangely. It's somewhere between a crunch and a squeak.)

Non-karate = oats.

PKP said...

By the way, I'll watch Karate Kid with you if you want Danielsan. I even have the DVD. You can come over any time you want. If Jeannie refuses to watch, she can just do some Physics homework, or something.